Paradigm shift for CEOs as companies resume business

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Traffic jam on city roads. Photo/File

Winstone Chiseremi and Moses Radoli

As the novel coronavirus blazes through the country, several business organisations have embarked on a paradigm shift not only to avoid catastrophe but also to remain afloat.

As businesses scramble to re-open in the Covid-19 economy, there is a notable shift in thinking with many CEOs taking cost reduction, job retention and improvement of cash flow as the new key drivers.

This is far from targeting improved revenue, improving market share and profitability which was the case before the pandemic dimmed global and local economies.

Also in the frame as businesses try to get used to the new normal are local restaurants which are scrambling to open dining areas.

Major restaurants in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) rushed to open their doors this week for the first time since their closures in March after months of counting losses.

Meeting joints

Some with chain outlets, others popular eating and meeting joints in the city centre are now busy trying to re-establish themselves into business, albeit with fewer customers than before the unexpected closures due to Covid-19.

Nairobi’s traffic is getting thicker indicating a surge in the number of people operating from the capital city after the extension of curfew hours from 7pm to 9pm. 

This has been the case in most major town including Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Machakos and Eldoret where a number of businesses hope the annual budget presented last Thursday will give them a shot in the arm.

Speaking during a webnair hosted by consulting firm PWC on the budget 2020/21, Zach Munyi, head of public policy at East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) said though the policy statement tried to stimulate the economy with VAT refunds to improve cashflow and working capital, it remains to be seen whether it will spur economic growth.

As firms start to make a progressive debut amid ongoing health protocols, he urged the government to give some headroom on tax payment, saying “some rethinking on grace period to repay taxes could go a long way towards reviving the economy.” 

In Nairobi a number restaurants had by yesterday displayed banners announcing they were now open to customers.

Perhaps the most conspicuous among the lot is Kilimanjaro which has a number of branches on Kimathi street and at Jkuat building, formerly ICEA, off Kenyatta avenue.

Others are the world famous Java House that has many of its doors in the city centre open to the public while others remain closed like that on the ground floor of the former Mitchell Cotts and St Ellis building off City Hall way, opposite Supreme Court.

Also opened are Al Yusra, Beirut, Ranalo Foods, Trattoria, Thorn Tree at the Stanley hotel, the Panda Restaurant, Pool Deck, Galitos, Campia Ethiopian Restaurants, Dormans, Teryiki Japan and many others whose clientele is still low.

Even Garden Square, formerly home to former popular bands like Mangelepa and Super Mazembe in the 1970s also on City Hall Way has not been left out.

Speaking to Business Hub, restaurateurs said they were allowed to open after ensuring sitting arrangements and health requirements by the government were met.

A manager at one of the Kilimanjaro restaurants Charity Kimani said: “We had to meet a long list of requirements set by the government through the ministry of health”.

Some of the most critical requirement, she added, is that all staff undergo Covid-19 testing and proving negative.

He said though the business had started at a very slow pace, they hope it would pick with time as more and more lockdown measures are relaxed to allow more and more people out to do business in the city.

In the North Rift and Western regions, a dozen factories which had shut down for three months due to a biting shortage of maize have started to recall their workers.

With relief

 Hundreds of employees who were sent home indefinitely due to lack of maize at the factories sighed with relief after they were told to report back to duty and start work after the arrival of the first consignment of one million bags of low duty free white maize from Mexico and South Africa to cushion Kenyan from the shortage.

Speaking to the press in Eldoret town on Tuesday, the Grain Belt Millers Association chairman Kipng’etich Mutai, said the consignment which docked at Mombasa port last week has enabled them to start operations.

He said although the two million bags will not be able to bridge the local deficit, it would at least keep them in business as they wait for local harvest of maize.

More on National